Neal Gladstone, beloved songwriter, musican, poet and comedian died of Parkinson's Disease on April 5 at his residence in Corvallis .  His wife, Barbara, was by his side.

Born July 23, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois, Neal came from a musical family where everyone played piano, and he and his sister also played violin.  When Neal was 5, the family moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma where his father Roy took a position as a Professor of Educational Psychology at Oklahoma State University. His mother Lillian was involved in theater and music and encouraged Neal's creativity.  

At age 16, Neal spent a formative year in India where his father had a Fulbright-supported sabbatical.  During his time there, Neal was inspired to take up the guitar and quickly began composing his own songs.  His first paid performance was in 1962 in Stillwater.  (Like John Lennon’s first public performance in Liverpool, it was done from the back of a truck!)  After graduating from Stillwater High School in 1963, he attended the University of Chicago where he officially majored (and received a degree in 1967) in psychology, but, as he noted, really majored in The Beatles.  

While at the University of Chicago, Neal joined with Kristi Kuchler and a friend to form “Dr. Kudley’s Prescription.”  This trio achieved regional success, recording four original songs for PKC Records between 1967 and 1968.  One song, “Losing You" was a local hit in Milwaukie, WI.  In 1973, Neal and Kuchler recorded “Children’s Voices” for an educational video that was played internationally and then in 1974, they recorded another that received national recognition, “Terry, Terry”, a video about autism. Hearing his songs on the radio set him on his life’s path.  

In 1976 Neal met his future wife, Barbara, in a psychology class.  They immediately hit it off and were married in 1977, at which point, they navigated westward, landing in Corvallis, to meet up with his Chicago bandmate Bob Behling.  Within months, adding the guitar and vocals of Tommy Rox, they formed the popular dance band Bentley, playing covers 6 nights a week in disco dance clubs up and down the valley. 
In 1980, Neal met vocalist Audrey Perkins. Recognizing his unique talent, Audrey urged him to form a band that played his music exclusively.  Over the 30 years of performances as an original band, many talented Corvallis musicians supported and joined Neal on stage and on recordings.  Neal Gladstone and Company concerts were sold-out events in Corvallis for over 20 years, most notably their annual Valentine’s Day performances at the Majestic Theater and summer concerts at Tyee Winery. Audiences were treated to surprising antics, including appearances by the zany Gin(seng) and Tonic singers -- fun-loving friends performing pastiche parodies of well-known songs, orchestrated and directed by Neal.

Meanwhile, using knowledge from his business classes and his life-long hobby of following the financial markets, Neal became a Registered Investment Adviser, starting Sector Advantage, a financial management company he ran successfully for many years.

In 1987 Neal, Audrey and Fred Child ventured into new territory, writing, producing and performing an original music and comedy radio show for Oregon Public Broadcasting.  One regular segment of the show, “Nick Drosophila, Private Eye” is thought by some to have been the inspiration for Garrison Keillor’s “Guy Noir,” on Prairie Home Companion. Over the next few years, four 13-week series of The Neal Gladstone Radio Show were broadcast on Oregon Public Radio, as well as on KLCC in Eugene, and KUOW, Seattle Public Radio.

Following a promotional trip to California, San Francisco-based Kaleidoscope Records signed Gladstone to a record contract, releasing the album "Sleep Neat" in late 1988.  As Neal continued to write and record, the band played to warm audiences all over the Northwest including Bumbershoot, Northwest Folklife, the Britt Festival, Albany’s River Rhythms, and the Sandy Bradley show in Seattle.  His compositions aired on NPR's "All Things Considered,” "Car Talk,” "Weekend Edition,” and "Dr. Demento.”  

Neal was meticulous, both in his musical writing and as a performer, releasing or performing only when he felt fully satisfied with his work.  He played with audiences, charming them with a gentle self-effacing wit and surprising them with songs on subjects ranging from the angst of losing his hair, to a paean to grapefruit, to getting a traffic ticket from a handsome cop, to going to the landfill.   

Neal’s musical repertoire also included serious compositions, such as “Dark Blue,” "To See You Again", and “Save Our Planet.” The latter was an anthem that became popular in the environmental movement.  At the request of his fans, in 1998 he compiled his ballads into the CD "Song for us All".   

In 2008, Neal was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He continued performing until 2011 when he officially retired.   Several years later he was the guest of honor at a concert of his own music performed by an array of groups in a sold-out Neal Gladstone Tribute Concert at the Whiteside Theater. As his health failed, it pleased him to know that, with the advent of music apps, people everywhere are finding his music on iTunes, YouTube, and Spotify, and the lyrics to each of his songs on his web site,,   

Neal was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by his wife, Barbara, and a sister, Renée Gladstone, in Chicago.  A celebration of life recognizing Neal and his music is planned for late July.   n